“Don’t expect supply chain costs to normalize for another year”



The wave of weddings that unfold throughout the second half of 2021 has been a boon for brands like Suitsupply, which rely on formal gatherings to drive sales. Over 50% of weddings planned for 2020 take place in 2021, increasing demand for wedding venues, equipment and retailers.

But canceled weddings starved formal wear brands for months. And now that weddings are back in full force, these brands face a new challenge: having enough stock to meet demand.

Suitsupply CEO Fokke de Jong said the brand has seen shipping costs rise – in some cases quadruple – and shipping delays across the board as well. It’s similar to what a lot of other brands have experienced. De Jong said being part of business organizations such as the Fair Wear Foundation, which improves working conditions in the fashion supply chain, has kept the company on good terms with its customers. suppliers in Italy and its manufacturers in China. In turn, these partners have prioritized their orders throughout the pandemic, reducing delays. Suitsupply made $ 237 million last year, more than half of which came from US customers.

Glossy spoke with de Jong about other supply chain issues he’s encountered and how Suitsupply is preparing for new challenges.

What kinds of supply chain issues have you encountered?
“We see a lot of logistics costs [for international shipping and materials] ascend. There are a few hurdles in moving things, and the shipping costs have increased dramatically.

Our ready-to-wear clothes are shipped by sea and our custom clothes are shipped by air, so we have seen more delays with the ready-to-wear rather than the custom. Our delivery time is usually around 2-3 weeks, but over the summer it was 3-4 weeks, although it’s getting smaller now.

We don’t expect these prices to normalize for at least a year. They can even stay high for longer. In my opinion, all pent-up demand now makes up for the lack of demand for so long. Logically, this demand will also decrease at some point. The challenge is therefore now temporary.

How has the wedding boom impacted the business?
“The marriage boom is very noticeable. However, this has a different impact on our ready-to-wear and custom clothing. A lot of people are guests who need something fast, which means they’re going to turn to ready-to-wear. So we need to make sure we have inventory in stock for them. Others, especially the bride and groom, come weeks in advance to get a suit made to measure. We have more time to get what they need.

That’s why it was important for us not to close any of our retail stores, so that customers could find the ready-to-wear they want. All our [130] retail stores remained open; we haven’t closed any of them permanently. And we’re expanding a lot of them – our Soho store, our Brooklyn store, our Madison Avenue store – and opening new stores. We have one in New Jersey opening next spring.

Do you expect to run out of inventory anytime this year?
“Tailored suits don’t suffer any delays. We see more [delays] on the ready-to-wear side, sometimes rarer with materials. We try to build hedges where we can. We have gone through the entire supply chain, trying to buy more stock, more fabrics and more designs than we normally would from our suppliers. We build a buffer, so that if, for example, a supplier closed for three weeks, we would have a [stash] of fabric that we could use until they open again. We are investing more money than usual in the supply chain right now. It’s less about spending efficiently and more about buying more than we need to have that tampon in case something goes wrong. “

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